Pouli ka mahina

Dave – Penticton

Wednesday night, October 27th, PRCC held it’s 3rd annual ‘Full Moon Paddle’ on Skaha Lake. This is a special event that we look forward to every year, where outrigger and dragonboat paddlers don their glo-sticks, blinking lights and headlamps, and come together for one last official paddle before most of us lightweights hang our paddles up for the winter.

’s a time for us to get together and celebrate the season that was, our successes and accomplishments – a chance to really feel the o’hana that flows through our club. We also take the time to look ahead to next year, while we talk about our training plans for the off-season (or lack thereof). All the while enjoying the company of our fellow club members, and those die-hard dragonboaters who show up for everything – our extended Penticton paddling family. This is of course not to mention the trip to the pub to warm up again when it’s all over!

What makes this event so special? Well, usually it comes from being blessed by some excellent weather, natural lighting provided by ‘ka mahina’ (the moon), and the opportunity to paddle out into the middle of the lake, with thermoses full of delightful (warm) beverages, and howl at the moon at the top of our lungs. Once again, last night, we had all that… and more!

I’m not sure if you all noticed, but in honour of PRCC’s third annual Full Moon Paddle, to celebrate one of our best seasons ever, I pulled some strings at the office and arranged to turn the moon ‘PRCC orange’ for a couple of hours. I guess sometimes being an astrophysicist has its perks! I can tell you that there is no better place to watch (and howl at) a ‘pouli ka mahina’ (a total lunar eclipse) than from six seat, in the middle of a mirror-surfaced lake with 30 of your paddling family members. It was a truly powerful experience!

Perhaps as this tradition grows over the next couple of years, more clubs will adopt this type of event in late October, and then on December 21, 2010, everyone can join us once again on Skaha Lake for yet another pouli ka mahina.

Mahalo from Penticton

5 – Better late than never

Ok, I realise that probably the most important posting would have been the one immediately after the race, and that it is pretty late, but here’s an abbreviated rundown of how Sunday went down.

We woke up at 4am in complete darkness and made our way to our last buffet meal of the trip, to carefully choose this ever critical meal. After being fed and packed, we boarded the bus down to Hale O Lono harbour to the boats, where about 1000 paddlers were congregating. Then commenced the task of finding escort boats, and loading them with all our gear. Paddlers stood on the beach by their hulls, watching others to see when they were putting in. Eventually a max exodus began, and everyone was getting their warm up started. The line up forms very quickly, and 15 minutes before the start, the boats are essentially lined up…94 boats total. The starter holds the orange flag up, and as we see his hand imperceptibly move closer to grab the green flag, the race is already going…it is an all out sprint, and there is some surf to grab.

For the remainder of the race, each has his own story, or interpretation, so getting it first hand from someone is recommended…

We headed along Molokai, and it seemed the top crews were already bee-lining towards diamond head. Then, it is a matter of just dealing with the ever changing conditions, and optimizing your boat run. All in all it was an absolutely amazing race, with all the challenges you would expect. We hulied early in the race, and eventually broke wide
open the 4 seat zipper….at times the boat would fill with water so quickly it was frustrating, but then you would turn around and put together two great 15 minute pieces where you would be passing bushels of crews at a time. The last hour or so of the race is to this day the most memorable bit of paddling I have ever been involved in, as we took the inside line around diamond head through the reef breaks…I have never been told to ‘let it run’ in the middle of a race, only to see a large wave crash just ahead of the boat, and then hear Paul say ‘Ok, back on!’ as though everything was normal again…There were times sitting in the escort boat, when you would see your boat disappear behind a set, and you would sit there visualizing the worse, only to see the boat lurch back into sight seconds later…definitely got the heart pumping. Then, the sprint
to the finish on turquoise water…amazing.

Anyhow, a great race, plenty of lessons learned, and many areas to improve, we will surely do better next time…and that’s what it’s all about.

Ok, thanks for reading….!
~ Briac – FCRCC

4 – Molo chronicles

Likely a final posting, since we are off to Molokai in the morning, I’ll try to recap the last couple days, and guess at what’s in store for us in the days ahead.

We’re going to have a favourable tide, and the wind is blowing mostly our way, but if it holds like this, many teams will likely bee-line towards Diamond head….still a little early to tell. The locals are thinking this may well be a record breaking year. If you have a look at the new links on ocpaddler.com, you will see there’s a lot of stiff competition showing up this year.

Yesterday we had a bit of an easier practice as we entered the final taper (of the year!)….and it looks like Steve has come into his own quite nicely as a helmsman over the last 5 days. Today he caught a monster wave and surfed right past our crew…he has definitely earned the trust of his crew, and everyone is feeding off of this pleasant result. Being a down day yesterday, we essentially stayed out of the sun and relaxed all day (minus a very competitive cannonball competition in the pool). We had an early dinner: spaghetti with a meat sauce, which had 7.5lbs of meat, and 6 jars of classico….ridiculous. We gave Scott the night off.

Paddling in Vancouver, it is easy to really relax the grip on your paddle. Out here, in big water and heavy winds, you really have to hang on, as it can quickly get whipped out of your hands. The good thing is that the exceptionally salty water seems to improve the grip on the paddle, but the downside is the extra salty water seems to do a trick to your skin. Guys are applying remedies to places they aren’t used to….

Another thing that is very obvious here is how big outrigger as a sport is. There are clubs everywhere, and you even see big brands endorsing the sport. Yesterday, looking at the beer selection in our local “Foodland”, at least two brands had outriggers depicted in some fashion…the bottles of bud have a picture of the islands with little outriggers. You hear that the Molokai crossing is the ‘superbowl’ of outrigging. Actually, this being the 53rd crossing, the Superbowl is kind of the Molokai Crossing of

Ok, back to reality: today we had our final training runs, and we ran different combinations up and down the channel to finalize crews. The boats are running quite well, and you can start to feel the race around the corner. Speaking of crews, we ended up losing an escort boat and a paddler, so we’ve have some last minute scrambling to deal with….but it doesn’t seem to be a major problem at this point. To celebrate this final practice of the year, we headed directly after practice to Makapu, for some team body surfing. Very odd, as I distinctly remembered that we had all agreed not to, as you run a fairly good chance of injuring at least one person…but anyways….everyone is feeling pretty good right now…

Tomorrow, we head out to one of the local airstrips, and we’ve chartered a small plane, who will transport us and our gear to Molokai in two shifts. Should be an amazing flight….with a good arial view of the course. Once on Molokai, we are staying at the Molokai Ranch, where our only responsibilities will be to remain hydrated, loaded with food, and to rig and float the boats.

newsflash: we just at this instant secured a second escort boat…so now we just need a paddler…no sweat…

Ok, this is going to be fun, and everyone is getting pumped…see you all next week….and we’ll look forward to hearing stories from all the other clubs.

Thanks for reading….! Briac, FCRCC